The next Buddha will be our community
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh died last Friday, at the age of 95, in the temple in Vietnam where he first became a monk at the age of 16. In a long, mindful life, Thay, as his students lovingly called him, touched the hearts and minds of millions.
Thay also changed the mindfulness conversation to one that focused on justice and peace for all. He believed – and lived into the belief – that engagement in the world, and healing the world, were the truest callings of all serious mindfulness practitioners.
Thay left us with many powerful teachings. In my favorite, he asserted that in the vast, possibly imaginal, lineage and continuum of buddhas – those ordinary humans who achieve perfect enlightenment and a lineage stretching back thousands of years and forward just as many more, the next Buddha would not be one human being at all.
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, the next Buddha will be the “sangha”: that growing, worldwide community of mindfulness practitioners of which all of us are a part.
Now we just need to prove Thay correct. And there’s never been a better, more urgent, moment to do that. Let’s see what that conversation, and work, look like.